I recently saw a twitter feed from a Christian friend that said “Pro-Life = Anti-War” I have no idea what led to the original statement being made. It may have simply been something this friend read recently and wanted to share. Or it may have been a response to recent actions in the world, especially conversations over Syria, and how different groups of people are addressing the subject. What was interesting, at least to me, was the responses this statement received. I must confess I don’t know a single person who responded personally and have no idea of their religious or political views, but I was amazed at how negative the responses were. People were very upset that this friend had combined these two “political” issues. While none of the people who were involved in that conversation, including the person who made the original statement, will probably ever read this post, I would like to make a response in the hopes that it may spur thoughts and conversations.
Most individuals who are pro-life feel that way because they believe that abortion is taking the life of a child. They are opposed to abortion because they view it as murder. Abortion is murder because it is a specific choice made by one person that will end the life of another. Pro-life advocates feel strongly that an unborn child is alive and already human thus to end a pregnancy through abortion is to end a life.
Most individuals in society will agree that murder is wrong. Most societies around the world have laws which declare that the taking of another life deserves punishment. In our own country, as well as others around the world, there are circumstances in which accidentally killing someone can even result in punishment if the death occurs from negligence or inappropriate actions on the part of the perpetrator. Even non-Christian societies are based on the premise that murder is wrong.
Why is murder wrong? An easy answer is that God says so, but this conversation does not call for an easy answer. Why is murder wrong? Murder is wrong because it involves the taking of another person’s life. Murder is wrong because it places humans in the position of deciding who should live and who should die. Only God can give life, and in turn, only God can choose when to take life. There is no possible way that humans have the mental capacity to understand all life situations and thus be able to determine who should live and who should die. Only God is wise enough to make that decision. To choose to take another’s life is in essence choosing to be God; it is placing oneself in the position of God, as if one knows all circumstances and knows what is best for everyone. It may be that some people are so wicked (Hitler would be a possibility) that the world is truly better without them, but still only God can know that. There is no way for humans to be able to possibly make that decision with all certainty.
Which takes us to the question of war. No matter how one describes war it involves the taking of another’s life. And no matter how much modern warfare has improved, everyone will agree that innocent lives are lost in war, there are always civilian casualties. Even without taking into account civilian casualties, when one fires a weapon at an opposing target the goal is to destroy the target which typically involves killing individuals around the target. It’s possible that all of the individuals killed around a specific target bent on evil, but it can be assumed that at least some of the individuals around a target simply because the army told them to be there, not for their own choice. People die in war, a direct effect from another individual’s actions. Some people will argue that some wars are a necessity because they are protecting the world (or the innocent) from evil. There is a strong sentiment throughout history (both secular and in the church) for justifiable war, but even with the Just-War theory, war is always a last resort, after every other possible solution has been tried. And it is always entered knowing war is not the ideal and it should be stopped as quickly as possible. Besides, to assume that war is sometimes a necessity is to assume that the only way to stop evil is through violence. But history is full of amazing stories of evil being stopped through non-violent protest. Not through passivity, but through standing up to evil in non-violent ways.
Which takes us back to the original statement. If one is pro-life (not just anti-abortion but truly pro-life) they must by definition be anti-war. If one is truly pro-life they must be opposed to the killing of other individuals. War kills people, thus making it a contradiction for a pro-life stance. War is never the ideal because it takes life.
This doesn’t even take into account the Christian perspective. For those of us who live as members of the Kingdom of God we long for the day when they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. We look forward to the day when peace will reign and all war will cease. And because we know that day is certain to come we live the reality now in anticipation for the future.
I challenge all of us to be pro-life, to honor life as a sacred gift from God. And when evil arises, to find non-violent ways to oppose it as a witness to a different reality.